Generally woodwork requires tough paints or polyurethane varnish, particularly if it is likely to be knocked - at skirting boards or door- ways. If you want to create a decorative colour effect (pages 62-65), use the required paint. Woodwork must be prepared even more carefully than walls. If it is not in bad condition to start with, wash it, and rub it down lightly with fine glasspaper before applying the new top coats. It is worth using good-quality brushes that do not shed bristles when applying oil-based paints.
Clean brushes thoroughly after use in white spirit, concentrated washing-up liquid or brush cleaner, according to the paint maker's recommendations. If you want to stop painting for a short break, wrap the brush in tin foil to keep the bristles moist and to prevent the paint hardening. Always replace the lid of the paint tin firmly after use.

1 Start by applying the paint along the grain of the wood: the area you cover depends on the surface you are painting. Cover an area about 30 em (12 in) square, or a strip of skirting about 60 em (24 in) long that you can reach easily.
Apply the paint along the grain without re- loading the brush, then dip the brush in the paint again, and apply a little more paint with crossways strokes.
Finish by stroking the paint along the grain, working only with upward strokes if the grain runs vertically. This is known as laying off the paint.

2 When painting windows, you should allow the paint to creep over the putty and a couple of millimetres on to the glass to seal the surface of the frame properly. If you don't have a steady hand and a good eye, you can use a paint shield - a triangular metal plate with a handle. Hold it against the glass as you paint the glazing bars. Use a paint shield when doing the skirting board too.
Alternatively, use masking tape to give a crisp edge to the paintwork. Peel off the tape when the paint is touch dry but not hard.
3. By painting the different elements of a window in the right order you will avoid touching any wet paint. With sash windows, start with the window open, so that the upper, outer sash comes down below the lower, inner sash. Paint the lower edge of the upper sash before sliding the sashes back to the slightly open position.